Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Revisiting the Carolinas' earthquake history

Thursday is the annual observance of the Great SouthEast ShakeOut, giving us all a chance to visit the Carolinas' seismic past and also to know what to do if our version of "The Big One" ever comes.

The Great SouthEast ShakeOut is held in the third week of October, and it's basically an earthquake preparation drill.

While the Carolinas certainly aren't on the same sort of shaky ground as California or Alaska, we've had a few shakes around here.

The classic, of course, was the Sept. 1, 1886, earthquake centered near Charleston. That temblor had a 7.3 intensity, caused 60 deaths, and was felt over a large part of the eastern United States and into the Caribbean. It even caused some damage in the Charlotte area.

Speaking of Charlotte ... a 4.0 earthquake was felt Dec. 13, 1879, apparently centered somewhere in the southeastern part of Mecklenburg County. North Carolina's biggest shaker was a 5.2 quake on Feb. 21, 1916, centered near Waynesville, which is west of Asheville.

But most of us have been shaken before in the Carolinas. That happened Aug. 23, 2011, in a 5.8 intensity quake centered about 40 miles northeast of Richmond. That earthquake was felt by many people in the Charlotte area.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division estimated that the same type of earthquake that hit Charleston in 1886 would cause a large loss of life and extreme economic damage today. Such a quake is certainly possible, as geologists tell us Charleston is in a fault zone.

An earthquake drill is scheduled for 10:16 a.m. Thursday.

According to the Great SouthEast ShakeOut website, a number of Charlotte-area schools and government agencies will participate.

Schools: Bain Elementary, Charlotte Secondary School, J.H. Gunn Elementary, McKee Road Elementary, Vance High and Winding Springs Elementary in Mecklenburg County. Also: Arndt Middle, in Hickory; Albemarle Middle, in Albemarle; and Pine Lake Prep near Mooresville.

Governments: Alexander County; Cabarrus Health Alliance; and Rowan County.


Dante Raiser said...

So CMS is spending time on earthquake drills. Queue John Oliver or Jon Stewart. Really?